Farmhand's 25-year learning curve

Last updated 13:42 26/12/2012

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Kaikoura

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A 44-year-old farmhand astonished Judge Tony Couch in the Kaikoura District Court with his "total and deliberate" breach of the law.

Gregory James Rendel, of Kaikoura, appeared on December 14 on two charges of driving while suspended on October 25 and December 5. Despite having been driving for 25 years, the court heard Rendel had never obtained a full licence and was still driving on a learner licence.

He had previously lost his licence through demerit points, many of which were for being an unaccompanied learner driver.

Defence counsel John Holdaway told Judge Couch that there had never been any issues with alcohol or driving competency. Losing his licence would mean he would lose his job, which was on a farm 15 kilometres outside Kaikoura.

However, Judge Couch said Rendel had been given numerous chances and had been warned each time he was stopped by police that he should not have been driving. He had driving convictions going back 25 years, he said.

"I don't think I have ever seen anything like this . . . going about your daily business driving in total and deliberate breach of the law."

That Rendel stood to lose his job was brought on by the fact that he consistently breached the law over a period of years, said Judge Couch.

Rendel faced two further charges relating to an incident in which his two pit bull dogs attacked a man, also on October 25.

According to the summary of facts, Rendel had been suspended from driving on October 25 at 8.40am. About 11.20am, he was at his Torquay St address when the victim was delivering the mail.

Two pit bull dogs belonging to the defendant were running loose on the property. They jumped over a low gate and attacked the victim, biting him on his legs and hand. He sustained puncture injuries which required hospital treatment.

The defendant grabbed the dogs and put them in the car, then drove off at speed, almost hitting the victim in the process.

When spoken to by police later the same day, he admitted the dogs had attacked the victim and also admitted driving after having been disqualified that morning. The dogs were destroyed.

Judge Couch said he felt sorry for the dogs as the owner was to blame for the attack. On the dog offences, Rendel was ordered to pay $600 reparation.

On the driving matters, Judge Couch said it was "well up the scale" for the type of offending and therefore a sentence of electronic monitoring was an option. He convicted Rendel and called for a report into the driving matters. Rendel was remanded on bail for sentencing on March 8.

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- Kaikoura Star

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